RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus (Finished 2nd) HOW WAS YOUR DAY? "I guess it was pretty uneventful compared to last week. It was pretty calm the whole race. I saw some wrecks happening around me, but I was fortunate we weren't in them.
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus (Finished 2nd)
HOW WAS YOUR DAY?
"I guess it was pretty uneventful compared to last week. It was pretty calm the whole race. I saw some wrecks happening around me, but I was fortunate we weren't in them. Like Joe says, sometimes you're just in the wrong place at the wrong time and today I saw the action but it was one of those deals where the track sort of opened up a couple times. There was not really even a panic situation, which is very rare today. It looked like everybody ran really hard. Restarts were a little bit treacherous. It seemed like most of the action happened right after that. You needed a little heat in your tires before you could really race side-by-side and that's probably what triggered most of the wrecks today is guys racing when the tires weren't suited to the track very well. It was a strategy race today. I think the whole field was just about as fast as one another. It came down, like Joe, pitting out of sequence. He was saying he thought that sort of did him in. We were out of sequence also, but kind of by design and it all worked out. Track position meant so much that at the end of the race, you could break out and get away. The lapped cars were very fast today, so if you could break out and get ahead of the lapped cars, you'd look up and in a few laps you had a straightaway on the next guy behind you and it was almost impossible for the guys behind you to run you down. That strategy was the key and having that track position at the end of the race was a key factor."
DID YOU HAVE ANYTHING FOR JIMMIE?
"I tell you we were about equal there. Joe, he must have been good because he just showed up there at the end. I'm sure he was good earlier in the race. I was watching, Little E was out there and, obviously, he pitted. Jimmie Johnson was running me down and then he kind of got about two car lengths behind me and then he just sort of stayed there. And then all of sudden here comes Michael Waltrip charging up through there, so, to be honest with you, after the last pit sequence I wasn't sure what was happening. I just knew that fuel mileage and sequence as gonna play the factor. As it turns out, Joe must have had a very fast car to come back up through there like that, but it was crazy. I didn't know who the leader was with about 15 laps to go."
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE IN SECOND?
"Like I was saying earlier, our guys were hollering and saying, 'the 24 is in front of you,' but they seemed to know who was gonna run out of gas and who wasn't. I didn't. They seemed to know and weren't too concerned about it. It would have been a little bit nicer to know who you were actually racing. I could see the 48 was, I don't know, 15 car lengths up there in front of us and I kind of figured with the way the sequence was working out that, obviously, he was probably the leader. I lost track with where Michael was. I understand he had a problem on a pit stop or something and drug a fuel can down pit road. The 48 was gonna be right there at the end and the 15 car, but I lost the 15 and I could see the 48. To be honest with you, I didn't have a clue exactly. I couldn't quite hear them on the radio, but it was one of those deals where I knew Joe was behind me and I had my hands full with him and trying to run as hard as we could. I could see us running guys down in front of us. They were coming back to us, but the fuel situation, like I said, I don't think it was a big surprise with people running out. The surprise was they ran much farther than anyone anticipated them going."
WAS YOUR CREW CONFUSED WITH YOUR TRACK POSITION?
"They weren't confused, I was confused. It was one of those things, 'just shut up and drive' because it was one of those deals where your ears get to ringing at the end of the race. They start talking or it's just old age. I'm not figuring out which one it is, but I couldn't hear what they were saying. Then you sort of look at the scoreboard, you look up in front of you and you start putting the picture together a little bit. I wasn't quite sure who pitted when I pitted. Like Joe said, he pitted when I did. I wasn't sure who pitted in that time. You lose track easy on a short track. I don't see how the crew chiefs and everybody keeps track of everybody because not only are you watching your car, you're having to watch everybody else. I'm not quite sure how they do it."
YOU'RE OLD NOW?
"I think Harvick said I'm 60, so I must be getting close to that (laughing)."
WHAT ABOUT DOVER NEXT WEEK?
"Dover has been a good track for us over the years. Our short track program has been pretty fair all year. Our intermediate tracks have been just pretty much terrible. I don't know any better way to put it, it just hasn't been very good at all. Aerodynamics is not our strong suit. We need some serious help and we need some help in a hurry. We're a little bit better. At Michigan we actually had an eighth to 12th place car but that was probably at best and I ended up getting a fender smashed in on it about midway through the race and then we couldn't run with it. A lot of teams are very advanced on aero and, right now, we're not one of them. That's something we didn't anticipate being this far behind on, but, I don't have any immediate answers. I know Eddie Wood and Pat and all those guys are trying to get involved. We would like to marry up with the Roush technology a little more closer than what we've been. There are some reasons why that's not happening right now. There are some good reasons. I have no hard feelings towards the Roush camp. They've worked very hard to find what makes these cars tick on the bigger tracks and all of our body work is done out of house. We don't do it in-house, so anything that was put on our car everybody in Charlotte would be educated on it, so there are some things we need to work on and take advantage of the Roush technology. Right now we're not able to do so."
WERE YOU CONCERNED YOU WOULDN'T FINISH THE RACE WITH TWO ROUSH MOTORS HAVING PROBLEMS?
"Not all the Roush cars pull the same gear ratio out there. We have our choices. I'd have to look and see who did what, but we probably were a little more conservative on gear than maybe some of the other guys were. I don't know what broke in their motors. I assume it was probably RPM related. It just amazes me what these things do now. I think that's why I can't hear very good. Those things scream so loud inside the car now turning ridiculous RPM that I don't see how they hold together to be honest with you. I wasn't aware. I saw Burton having trouble. I saw him at the end of pit road and a lot of white smoke coming out, so evidently they must have broke a valve or something. That's usually RPM related, so I would think that's probably what happened to him."
WHY DID YOU STAY OUT WHEN OTHER CARS CAME IN?
"I wish I could answer that question for you, but, to be honest with you, I haven't got a clue other than the fact that I think all of these teams try to figure out - the trick is to time it so you run out of gas at the checkered flag. On that pit stop you want to have four fresh tires so when you run out of gas at the checkered flag you had the best grip all day long because track position outweighs mechanical grip from new tires. To be honest with you, I haven't got a clue on how that strategy was playing out. A lot of times I'll question that. I'll say, 'Are you sure about that? Are you sure you want to come in and top off now?' You don't have the whole picture as a driver. You don't see the whole outcome and I don't add too good anyway, so I let those guys do that."
HOW SLICK WAS THE TRACK?
"Hopefully, the Bahre's are over the hump with this asphalt situation. For so many years they caught a lot of heat with this race track tearing up. The last time we came here we sort of had our doubts because it wasn't maybe a month or so before we got here that they had repaved, but, thank goodness, the pavement stayed down for the first race. Once you get through that first race you're usually sort of over the hump. Today you could see some stuff starting to form on the race track and I thought it might be asphalt, but when asphalt starts coming apart you can hear it hitting under the car like gravel or sand and it never did that. They went out there with the track sweepers about halfway through, cleaned up everything, and it looked like they had just repaved it. The track was in excellent shape. Like I said, these guys caught a lot of heat for a lot of years and now I have to commend them. They've got a surface that's down and it's a good race. If we go out there and wreck, it's just because maybe you need to be a little more patient on the restarts until the tires get heated up. But, after that the track was in excellent shape."